Look at their website – 80%
Search online/Google – 63%
Ask friends/colleagues – 62%
Social media – 59%
Talk to a reference they provided – 55%
Don’t check them out – 0.7%
The survey by Hinge Marketing (Beyond Referrals: How Today’s Buyers Check You Out), analyzed by consultant Stephen Fairley on Avvo Lawyernomics, involved 1,000 purchasers of professional services – including legal – to determine how prospects check out professional providers before making a decision.
I haven’t read the full report, so don’t know if the 1,000 purchasers were individuals, small businesses, or larger companies – but either way, it’s further evidence of the power of online sites in enabling more informed buying decisions.
As Mr.Fairley says:
Note that less than 1% said they don’t check you out. Which means just about everyone looking for professional services does some sort of online or peer research prior to making the decision to hire.”
The report also found that 70% of those surveyed use LinkedIn to check out a prospective professional services provider.
If I’m looking for some professional services, or a tradesman of some sort, I get nervous when I find very little or nothing about them online.
Does it mean they are a bad lawyer, or plumber?
Of course not.
But other things being equal, it makes it less likely you will contact them – and hire them – if you don’t have some initial information from which to build up a picture of them and how suitable they might be for your needs.
Recommendations from friends and colleagues, while still important to some, are less influential than they once were. I would expect the 62% figure above to drop in the future.
These days, people are less likely to rely on the word of one friend or family member, who may say they had a good experience, but speak from a narrow perspective and have no comparative sense of how that provider stacks up against others.
At a business level, the debate as to the value of legal directories has raged for as long as I have been in the business.
A point that gets missed by some of the directory skeptics is that the various legal directories, awards, and other online sites show up when prospective customers do a search online, so it helps if lawyers are visible.
Fewer buyers of commercial legal services reach up to their shelf and grab a thick, dusty legal directory volume than in the past.
Like consumers, savvy buyers of legal services will use the internet in the same way to develop a shortlist, narrow a shortlist down, and arm themselves with information before approaching a particular lawyer or firm.
They routinely use the web to check out some of the other places where the lawyer has appeared – legal directories, press articles, social media sites, blogs, and industry conferences.